TYPE 356 C – 1964-1965
The 356 C was introduced for 1964 and, as everybody now knows, was a T-6 body type model. The only outward difference between a T-6 B and a C is the wheels, or more precisely the hubcaps. There were basically three types of hubcaps over the entire 15 years of production: the Baby Moon, the Super and the C.
The C hubcaps are like a disk (with or without a Porsche crest in the center). They are flat, as opposed to the other two types. These hubcaps indicate that you are looking at a car with four disc brakes, the 356 C.
There were a couple of other minor changes but none of them visible outside the car. The 1964 and 1965 cars are the last of the 356s, culminating with the top of the line SC engine (in pushrod trim) and the Carrera 2 engine (in 4-cam trim).
coupe, cabriolet, Speedster, Convertible D, Roadster, Hardtop
356 soft-top body styles are a major point of confusion for the uninitiated. I should have a dollar for each time I was told that I had a beautiful Convertible (which was in fact a Roadster) or that so and so was looking for a Speedster (when he actually wanted a cabriolet).
We all know what a coupe is, right? It’s a car with a fixed steel top, as opposed to a soft-top model. The answer is basically “yes” as far as 356s are concerned (we’ll come back to that later).
Now for the hard stuff. A Porsche 356 with a soft top can be a cabriolet, a Speedster, a Convertible D or a Roadster. Let’s try to make some sense out of that.
A cabriolet is the soft-top equivalent of a coupe. The way to tell a cabriolet is to look at the windshield frame. The cabriolet windshield frame is the same shape as the coupe and is painted the same color as the rest of the body.
On the other hand, Speedsters, Convertible D’s and Roadsters are special cars that do not correspond to an equivalent coupe model. Here again, they can be told apart by their windshield frame. Since the cabriolet and the coupe are related, but the others aren’t, it follows that you can have three body styles in the same model year, i.e. a coupe and a cabriolet, plus one of Speedster, Convertible D or Roadster (depending on the year) but you cannot have a Speedster, a Convertible D or a Roadster in the same year. For those getting really confused, a little diagram will be useful.
coupe and cabriolet only for all other years (except for 17 completely different America Roadsters in 1952).
So the cabriolet is like a coupe but with a soft top and with the windshield frame painted the same color as the body.
On the other hand, the Speedster, the Convertible D and the Roadster all have removable (to a point) chrome windshield frames. Here is how to tell them apart.
The first to come along was the Speedster. It was built from 1954 to 1958. A Speedster can therefore be a pre-A or an A. It has a low, thin chrome windshield frame, with rounded upper corners.
The Convertible D (D stands for the body maker Drauz) was manufactured for the 1959 model year only. It is therefore an A. The chrome windshield posts are bigger and higher than the Speedster, and the two upper corners make an angle with the top of the chrome windshield frame (as opposed to the rounded corners on the Speedster).
The Roadster replaced the Convertible D in 1960. It is therefore a B car, but with the same chrome windshield frame as the Convertible D. It was manufactured until 1962, which means that the Roadster can be a T-5 or a T-6. The T-6 Roadster is known as the Twin-Grille Roadster and is extremely rare, as fewer than 250 were built, starting with #89601, with which I was intimately acquainted at some time.
Let’s have another of my little diagrams to recap all this.
Plus, of course, for all those years, the coupe and the cabriolet.
One final oddity in the 356 saga: the Karmann Hardtop (also called the Notchback).
We all know that a hardtop is a removable steel (or sometimes fiberglass) roof designed to fit on a cabriolet. Removable hardtops were available for Speedsters and cabriolets either as a Factory option or aftermarket. The “Karmann Hardtop” or “Notchback” was essentially a cabriolet body with a fixed hardtop welded in place. It looked like a cabriolet with a hardtop but was in fact equivalent to a coupe since the top could not be removed. This model was built for 1961 and 1962 and less than 2,300 were made. They are easily recognizable due to their special shape and can be differentiated from a cabriolet with a hardtop in place by the uninterrupted sheet metal coming down the side of the rear window and blending into the rear cowl (whereas on a real cab with a hardtop, there is a gap between the base of the rear window and the rear cowl.